South African police fire rubber bullets at anti-immigrant protesters

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 16, 2015 7:25 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African police fired rubber bullets and tear gas on Thursday to disperse a crowd of anti-immigrant protesters in an eastern suburb of Johannesburg, the country's biggest commercial city, a Reuters witness said.

Around 200 protesters, shouting that they wanted immigrants to leave, had pelted passing vehicles and the police with rocks, triggering the show of force.

At least four people have been killed in a wave of anti-immigrant violence that started two weeks ago in Durban, a key port on South Africa's Indian Ocean coast.

Johannesburg was the epicentre of the 2008 xenophobic attacks that killed more than 60 people.

President Jacob Zuma has called for the killings to stop.

"I think this now must stop, because we cannot continue killing one another. What is happening in our country is not acceptable," Zuma told state broadcaster SABC in remarks broadcast on Wednesday night.

South Africa has erected safe camps in the coastal city of Durban for fleeing immigrants whose shops were looted and burnt.

South Africa, with a population of about 50 million, is home to an estimated 5 million immigrants, and its high jobless rate, widespread poverty and glaring income disparities make it a ripe candidate for outbreaks of anti-immigrant violence.

Unemployment is officially around 25 percent but economists say in reality it is much higher.

(Reporting by Dinky Mkhize; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia)